Actor gets dream role as Buddy in Civic Theatre’s production of  ‘Elf’


Brett Edwards has long been a fan of “Elf.”

“We hosted Thanksgiving and we had 20 to 30 people, and at the end of the day, for about 10 years, we would watch ‘Elf,’” Edwards said. “So, that was always our thing.”

So, it seems fitting that the Broad Ripple resident is playing the lead role of Buddy in Civic Theatre’s presentation of “Elf,” which runs Dec. 1-24 at The Tarkington at the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel.

Edwards performed in the ensemble of “Elf” in Altoona (Pa.) Community Theatre. At the time, Edwards was an AccuWeather meteorologist in State College, Pa.

“To be able to perform in the show and have the role of Buddy is really exciting,” he said. “Being able to play the role means not just a lot to me, but I know my family has a lot of connection to the show and the character itself. It’s definitely a dream role.”

Matt Bays played Buddy in the 2019 and 2021 productions of “Elf” at Civic Theatre.

This is the first Civic Theatre show for Edwards, an energy meteorologist analyst for Midcontinent Independent System Operator in Carmel.

“Primarily for the last year or so, I’ve been at Footlite Musicals,” said the 28-year-old Edwards, who is originally from the Chicago area. “I’m a big fan of comedic timing. I like making people laugh.”

Westfield resident Jack Tanselle returns in the role of Walter Hobbs, who he played in the 2021 production.

“I was in it with my daughter two years ago,” Tanselle said. “She was the prompt for me to get back on stage. I had so much fun. Even though she is up at Northwestern now, I thought I would do it again.”

Tanselle said Hobbs is off-putting for much of the musical.

“He turns around and finds the Christmas spirit by the end of the show, thanks to his long-lost son,” Tanselle said.

Civic Theatre Executive Artistic Director Michael Lasley directed the show in 2021. John Goodson is directing this year.

“They each have their own interpretation of the show, and both have worked really well,” Tanselle said. “But they are different. It worked so well the last time and I think it’s a little different view and angle and it’s going to work again. To see two different people can have two different takes on the same show and each of them work equally well is pretty cool. The cast is quite different. We have a new Buddy who brings incredible energy to the show and incredible talent.”


Quincy Carman, a College Wood Elementary School fifth-grader in Carmel, performs in the ensemble.

This is Carman’s fourth show at Civic but first on the main stage. She has been in Junior Civic for three years and appeared in Actors Theatre of Indiana’s presentation of “Violet” in 2022.

“I really like being in a show with kids and adults,” Carman said.

Carman especially enjoys the song “Happy All the Time.”

“I love the movie,” she said.


Jack McNally, a Creekside Middle School eighth-grader from Carmel, plays Michael Hobbs.

“I saw the musical when Civic did it two years ago and I’ve seen the movie a couple of times,” he said. “I like that I get to be a child, which means I get to be super energetic.”

McNally played Kurt in “The Sound of Music” at Civic earlier this year.

“My favorite part of any show is the people. The people make or break how good a production is,” McNally said.

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